Ancient Greece > Athens
Athens is at the center of the history of ancient Greece. Most of what we know of ancient Greek culture depends on records from this principal polis. Athens is the birthplace of democracy and has been called the cradle of western civilization. Although culturally supreme among the Greek city-states, Athens and Sparta were rival political leaders.
Athens was centered around its hill, the acropolis, from about 1200 in the late Bronze Age. It was there where the famous 5th century Athenian leader Pericles arranged to have the lead architects and sculptors of the day build the architecturally significant temple to Athena that is known as the Parthenon following the Persian sack of the city in the Persian Wars. The Parthenon contained a chryselephantine statue of Athena -- patron goddess of Athens and the goddess after whom Athens was named, and the sculptures that are known as the Elgin Marbles and are located in the British Museum.
Athens was located in a coastal plain on the mainland of Greece. It is between the mountain ranges of Aigaleos to the north and Hymettos to the south.